A Beginner's Guide to Detailing - What products should I use? [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

: A Beginner's Guide to Detailing - What products should I use?

08-06-2011, 05:00 PM
Hello Everyone,

I am a proud owner of a new 2011 335is that I took delivery via BMW's ED program. I've owned many vehicles (the BMW is my 14th to date), and I have never felt "content" with the vehicle I drive... until now. I'd like to keep this vehicle for a few years (few meaning 7-10) and I would really like to keep it in showroom condition as much as I can.

I searched the forums and couldn't find a list of must-haves. I'd like to know what I would need, from A-Z in order to give the vehicle the perfect long-lasting shine.

In addition to the above, I will be doing a photoshoot in a week and would like to have the auto in pristine condition for the shoot.

Any guide to the best products is greatly appreciated!



08-07-2011, 01:35 AM
Take a look at this guide and you will begin to understand a bit more and possibly know which products are good and bad. Part of detailing is experimenting with new products. Learn to have fun and you will be alright.


08-07-2011, 05:00 PM
If this is your only photoshoot, and you want it to look as best as possible, I would wait for sure. You're probably not going to know/learn enough to do everything required for anything approaching a concours d'elegance look. If you buy many things online as I do, you also have to account for shipping time as well.

Now the question of must-haves is pretty impossible to answer. Some pro detailers are fine with a grout sponge and one bucket. Other pros will have in one hand the foam gun supplying soap during the entire wash, and use a separate mitt for each panel. Maybe like 6 mitts for one car wash?? Dedicated mitts meant for certain panels. Older mitts for wheels, etc, yes it's pretty overkill, but for these people they would say it's a must-have. I think you get my point.

So, I don't know how much you're willing to spend, but it can get out of hand, depending. So how to pick your spots and/or get the most out of your money? I recommend buying in bulk, in gallons, and opting for concentrate forms of any cleaner rather than premixed. For instance, you might save hundreds over the years, if you don't buy premixed quick detailer, and instead just get ONR in concentrated form. Wait for promotional sales from any of the online vendors and sponsors here.

Ok maybe I can offer a quick minimum must have list. I have two DAs, one close to $300, multiple vacuums with the nicest at $200, etc. But maybe here is a recommended or minimum:

grit guard
wash mitt, whether lambswool, MF, or grout. (my preference is in that order).
wash soap, Optimum or Griot's.
gallon of aerospace 303 protectant for all of your seals and trim (you can pay a lot more otherwise for a different product; might be worth it for vert owners).
box of sprayway cans
$50 Ridgid wetvac (register for lifetime warranty)
large bottle of ONR for clay lube, QD, rinseless wash, and quasi-APC.
gallon of concentrated APC for whatever, including wheel wells, tires, etc.
gallon of degreaser concentrate (also good for cleaning polish pads)
DA RO (Griot's, PC, or Meguiar's)
Cans of Armor All Wheel Protectant from Target
Optimum Opti-Bond for tires
wheel cleaner is way too controversial IMO ($ = Royal Brown, $$$$ = Sonax; I'm halfway through a gallon of Sonax atm myself- I don't understand how some people are successful with APC on BMW wheels)

Many foam pads, and a variety. If I was allowed only two colors (I have nearly all), I'd pick orange and blue probably. You want multiples though, of any color.

a boatload of MF towels (understand the % of components, the various methods for making their edges, etc).

recommended bonuses (but not must have depending who you ask):
2nd bucket
foam gun and/or foam cannon
leaf blower or other air dryer

ok, that's it for now, good luck, and congrats.

08-07-2011, 05:06 PM
Ok, more thoughts, add:

3M general adhesive remover (for tar as well)
Langka Blob Eliminator for when you obtain matching touch up paint
Leather cleaner recs range from Leatherique, Zaino, Lexol, Woolite and others.

A variety of brushes (also controversial, in terms of reliability and/or how much they may scratch). IMO, don't cheap out on leather brush (so annoying if it sheds). Tire brush, proper wheel brush, lugnut cleaner (I think I prefer my Carrand of the two I have). Depending on the shapes you have, another slim one that can fit in the space allowed by tires for wheel wells. A host of cheap toothbrushes may come in handy, and that will be one of my very next detailing purchases.

Aluminum polish, try Menzerna's for non-abrasive, and Mother's for mildly abrasive. Both are good.

08-07-2011, 05:19 PM
Head over to detailing world an autopia, and lurk for a few months. Read over the discussions and figure out what you want.

Basic stuff to get you started:
Never use a car wash.
Never let the dealer wash the car. Ever.
Only use microfiber or lambs wool on the car, except for when polishing, which is when you can use a wheel.
Never use a sponge, Terry cloth, and NEVER use a brush.
Get a coat of sealant/wax on as soon as possible, then worry about the polishing etc. Protecting the finish is more important than getting fancy products. CQuartz is a new product that some people are incredibly excited about, but you should have a clean, clayed, polished surface first.
Wash the car with a grit guard as often as possible. Lots of flowing, soapy water with light pressure is key.

08-07-2011, 06:53 PM
autogeek.net is one of the best sites out there.

Congrats on your car and ED too!! :thumbup:

08-08-2011, 02:52 PM
Congratulations. There are so many different choices out there - so I would look at some of the detailing forums (autopia.org and autogeekonline for detailed discussions).

This is what I would get if I were to start from scratch

To wash:
2 5 Gallon Buckets from Home Depot/Lowes or wherever you can get them cheap
A car wash (many choices - for over the counter I would look at Autoglym, Meguire's or Griots)
Lamb Skin Wash Mitt
Some sort of Wheel Brush
Some sort of Wheel Cleaner

To clean/wax
Meguires/Mother's clay kit (remove all the contaminants)
Wax/Sealant of Choice (too many out there - my favorites FK1000P, Blackfire Wet Diamond)
Stoner's for Window
Armor All Wheel Protectant for Wheels
Meguire's Quick detailer for interior

If you want to go with boutique products, my favorite brand is Optimum. I would get their Spray Wax also Opti-Seal, ONR and their all purpose cleaner - OPC. OPC is pretty strong and does a good job of removing wheel dust.

08-09-2011, 04:45 AM
Everyone, thanks for the replies!

I checked Adam's and Adam's has an "Essentials Kit" for $200. That's my budget. Is that just about everything I need or is that more than I need? I know from research there is no "Best", but I would like some recommendations. An all in one kit would be preferred, but again, if that's more than what I need, I wouldn't want to waste money on unnecessary products.

To add, I checked on Autopia and saw the "ask yourself these questions". Here are my answers, let me know if this will help:

A few things to note, this is my Friday-Sunday driver, kept in a dusty garage (condo garage), never park under trees, live in Miami so I don't know what Winter is, rain is common and it's been 92-100 degrees lately with 70+ humidity, if that matters.

Thanks everyone for all your help!


08-09-2011, 05:47 AM
For the high temperature, I would go with a synthetic wax (sealant). Product to look into: Chemical Guys EZ Creme; Klasse All-In-One and as a sealant I would get Blackfire Wet Diamond.

03-22-2016, 06:43 PM
I wrote a post on my blog about the top 5 products I think every BMW owner should have for detailing. Let me know what you think!